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Climate and causation in the Swedish Iron Age: Learning from the present to understand the past
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Human Geography.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3322-7848
2013 (English)In: Geografisk tidsskrift, ISSN 0016-7223, E-ISSN 1903-2471, Vol. 112, no 2, 126-134 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The paper reassesses the role of climate as a factor shaping changes in settlement and landscape in the Swedish Iron Age (500 BC to AD 1050). Two reasons motivate this re-evaluation. First, high-resolution data based on climate proxies from the natural sciences are now increasingly available. Second, the climate-related social sciences have yielded conceptual and theoretical developments regarding vulnerability and adaptability in the present and recent past, creating new ways to analyse the effects of climatic versus societal factors on societies in the more distant past. Recent research in this field is evaluated and the explicitly climate deterministic standpoint of many recent natural science texts is criticized. Learning from recent approaches to climate change in the social sciences is crucial for understanding society–climate relationships in the past. The paper concludes that we are not yet in a position to fully evaluate the role of the new evidence of abrupt climate change in 850 BC, at the beginning of the Iron Age. Regarding the crisis in the mid first millennium AD, however, new climate data indicate that a dust veil in AD 536–537 might have aggravated the economic and societal crisis known from previous research.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 112, no 2, 126-134 p.
Keyword [en]
Climate, Sweden, Iron Age, vulnerability, AD 536, fimbul winter
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Human Geography
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-83869DOI: 10.1080/00167223.2012.741886ISI: 000313497900005OAI: diva2:577361
Swedish Research Council, 2006-1728
Available from: 2012-12-19 Created: 2012-12-15 Last updated: 2016-08-11Bibliographically approved

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